What do you all think? What is the max amount someone should take if they want to keep their future options open. I am an accepted student deciding between schools and packages. I have no money and my parents aren't contributing.
No one can answer this for you. If I were you, I'd make a spreadsheet to calculate a realistic estimate of the debt you'd accrue at each school -- don't forget that interest accrues during school for unsubsidized Staffords and GradPlus and interest accrues on the whole enchiladada during forbearance. Then use an online calculator (the ones at www.finaid.com are good) to get a rough feel for your likely monthly payments.
Then picture yourself writing that check every month for 30 years. Ooof.